Can I say no to a flexible working arrangement?

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, a significant number of workers began working from home. 

As offices began to reopen, many employees wish to remain working from home either on a full-time basis or at least partially.  As a result, employers must consider how they must handle requests for flexible working arrangements (FWA) and the way in which these requests may be denied. 

Can the employee make the request?  

An employer is only required to consider FWA’s from employees who have completed at least 12 months of continuous service, and the employee: 

  1. is a parent or has responsibility for the care of a child of school age or younger; 
  2. is a carer of an elderly or disabled person; 
  3. has a disability;
  4. is experiencing violence from a member of the employee’s family; or 
  5. is providing care or support to a member of the employee’s immediate family who is experiencing family violence. 

What can an employee request as an FWA? 

  1. hours of work; 
  2. patterns of work; and/or 
  3. work location.

Responding to a FWA request   

The employee must provide the FWA in writing and they must set out what they would like to change and for what reason. Once received, the employer must respond in writing within 21 days and inform the employee of whether the request is accepted or denied. 

Can the employer say not to a FWA request? 

An employer may refuse a FWA request on business grounds.  The following may constitute business grounds for a refusal: 

  1. the new arrangement would be too expensive;
  2. there is no capacity for other workers to change their arrangement to accommodate the FWA; 
  3. it would be impracticable to accommodate the FWA or to recruit a replacement employee in order to accommodate the FWA; 
  4. the FWA is likely to result in a loss in productivity or efficiency; and/or 
  5. the FWA is likely to result in a negative impact on customer service. 

If an employee has requested a flexible working arrangement the team at MJT Law are happy to advise of your options. 

 

  Article written by Chris De SantanaAssociate 



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